Following the cancellation of Art Basel Hong Kong, organisers of the
annual art fair, which usually attracts tens of thousands of visitors,
recently hosted a mini art event (26-30 November) in support of the
local arts community.
Hong Kong Spotlight by Art Basel was held during the Fine Art Asia
2020 show at HKCEC, showcasing 22 galleries with exhibition spaces in
Adeline Ooi, Art Basel Asia director said in a press statement: “Our
collaboration with Fine Art Asia is a wonderful opportunity for the Hong
Kong cultural community to come together and celebrate the creative
spirit of the city. Art Basel is dedicated to supporting the region and
we are delighted that we are able to provide a physical platform for
galleries and their artists in what has been a challenging year."
“Hong Kong Spotlight is a special occasion for our Hong Kong
exhibitors to present their premier programme and an opportunity for the
art community to exchange ideas. I am excited to see a great line-up of
exhibitors for the project and look forward to seeing artists’ works in
person again”, said Angelle Siyang-Le, project lead on Hong Kong
Spotlight and regional head of gallery relations Asia, Art Basel.
Ben Brown Fine Arts, a London-born gallery with an exhibition space
in Hong Kong, showcased works by José Parlá and Gerhard Richter at Hong
Kong Spotlight by Art Basel. “The art world is quite resilient to
economic pressure. With a plethora of creatives, new initiatives for
innovation are always being proposed to bring the audience closer to the
art,” director Amanda Hon told M&C Asia. "The gallery has remained
open and constantly held exhibitions throughout the year”.
Art Basel Hong Kong 2021 will be postponed to May, instead of its
usual March slot, so the current exhibition will act as a crucial bridge
between exhibitors and viewers.
Amid Hong Kong’s recent upsurge in daily Covid-19 cases, the city has
implemented further social distancing measures, continuation of
mandatory mask wearing and limited gatherings of up to four people.
Return of the arts
Meanwhile, other art events and exhibitions will proceed at a smaller scale, including the annual design festival deTour.
Held in PMQ, deTour kicked off on 27 November and will run until 6
December. The festival features an online initiative as well as a
physical exhibition. “I think Hong Kong's art scene is still holding up
strong as bank interests are fairly low, which means it's better to
collect art or invest into stock or properties”, Shin Wong, the
festival’s curator-at-large told M&C Asia. “Artists and Galleries
are taking things slowly, repositioning themselves in the market, which
also means it is a great chance to find their real collectors."
In some cases, galleries have moved to digital platforms to showcase
artwork online. When Art Basel Hong Kong was cancelled in March, it
launched online viewing rooms to allow exhibitors to present works
intended for the cancelled show.
“The Hong Kong local audience is a rich group of art appreciators
that we constantly need to get to know," she adds. "The Spotlight fair
has brought in new people to our gallery and new collectors who have
Other ways of coping with the changes include scaling down. “Curating
small, high-quality exhibitions is obviously the right thing to do, as
social distancing is still very important”, said Wong.
“Many initiatives are taking place, in-person and online”, said Katie
de Tilly, founder of 10 Chancery Lane Gallery and exhibitor at Hong
Kong Spotlight. She says such events act as a critical part of the
city’s cultural engagements and demonstrate community support.
As the art market continues to evolve, galleries are adapting
accordingly. “Acquiring art through an online platform is definitely
what buyers are willing to do these days, hence investing and upgrading
one's website is a must for all galleries and artists,” Wong added.
“Finding ways to engage audiences through virtual showrooms has also
become a new norm. I think the navigation and web experience will change
one's perspective towards the arts."